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Book Review: Not In The Heart by Chris Fabry

This is the fourth book I've read of Chris Fabry's. In each of his books (all well-written) his main character's are "different," even controversial, certainly
stimulating, and leaves the reader long after the book is finished still thinking and pondering them. Not In The Heart is in line with my before hand statement.
Truman Wiley is not a likable character, and that's an understatement. He has a lengthy list of character traits that are intolerable. He is not a malicious character. He is lost. He is like a sheep without a shepherd. Please read Matthew 9:36 and John 10. Truman is addicted to gambling. In this spiraling out of control addiction he has just about lost everything he'd had. Truman's teenage son Aiden is in the hospital with a sick heart. He is waiting for a heart transplant. The donor is Terrelle Conley, a man on death row that proclaims he is innocent. Truman has an older daughter Abigail. Abigail is a wounded little bird, yet veils it by a mask of sarcasm and anger. Truman's wife Ellen is long on patience and long-suffering. She is trying desperately to hold it all together.
Not In The Heart, tries to tell several themes in one book: gambling addiction, marital difficulty, family dysfunction, death penalty, organ donation, political fraud, murder, journalism, job loss, broken relationships, family of prisoner's, and parents of terminally ill children. This is a heavy, heavy story. From the first page to the last there is no pause for lightheartedness, except maybe in the sarcastic dialogue from Truman and or his daughter Abigail. To me, Truman is a pathetically sad character. From the first point of my introduction to him, I did not feel his developing story would end well.

I know, you want to know if I like it. Yes and no. I'll explain.
What I liked:
1. I felt that the story digs deep in showing a person addicted. It shows the out of control life of a person that "thinks" they've got "it" under control. We see, as the reader that their full of it, literally. They are blind to their drug of choice, and Truman's drug was gambling. We also through this story see Truman's addictions affect on his family. His family has now developed through what has happened with him, their own problems, not to mention anxieties, fears, anger.
2. I felt the story did justice (no pun intended) in bringing out what family members go through when they have a loved one on death row.
3. The book brought to light the need for more organ donor's and our feelings about where these donation's come from.
What I did not like:
Only 1 thing I not like about this book. It's too heavy, too weighty, too much to digest. After reading this book I felt like I had eaten too big of a meal. One theme alone would have been heavy, such as addressing gambling addiction, or addressing death row and or death penalty.

I felt the author wanted by the end of the story for some redeeming good to come out of Truman's life. That Truman would in the end make a responsible decision. Of course I can't tell you the end, that would spoil it for you.

I've been asked to share what Truman has been in my life. I have to be careful about answering this question because I have family that reads my blog reviews. It is a deeply personal and private question; although I understand that it can be a testimony to help other people.
There have been several Truman's in my life: in my own family growing up, in the family that I married in to, including the man I married. Early in my marriage that addiction ended, although it will be something that for the rest of his life he will need to stay vigilante in prayer about. As far as the family I married in to, multiple addictions are rampant down to the generations that have been born since I married over 29 years ago. Few see themselves in the light of Christ. They are lost. They are indifferent, and since they associate with people who do the same thing they do, there is no chance for an encounter with the One who gave His life for them. The few times I see them they are uncomfortable with me, we're friendly, but I perceive they just don't know what to say to me, because I'm the Bible thumper the goody-two-shoes. If they only knew how much I love them and how much I've prayed for them. More importantly if they only knew how much Jesus loved them. At this point they don't care, but that does not mean I stop praying. My job is to pray for them and when opportunities arise I talk to them. I try to be very, very conscious of not coming across as being judgmental, instead I want to be approachable. I will be held accountable as well. I too am imperfect and in need of God's grace. The most difficult Truman in my life is my brother James. I don't have an answer for him, as I don't know what exactly what his problem is or probably multiple problems. I know he has a history of alcohol and drug addiction. I know he shows mental health problems. He eventually burns every relationship he has. At this time he has no car, not even a bicycle, no money and maybe no job, he would be homeless if not for a few others he keeps on a leash. He and I have not spoken since January 2007. At our mother's funeral March 2008 he would not acknowledge me, he did not look at me, he did not speak to me, he would not speak or look at my husband or children. This hurt, more so than peering in to our mother's casket at her lifeless body. At one time James and I were close, but define close, if he needs you for something he will keep in contact, if not, he drops you and it is always your fault or no explanation is ever given. I'll keep praying, keep hoping, keep trusting in Jesus that waits patiently for James to come home.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy for free in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to
Tyndale House Publishers and B and B Media Group Inc.

The release month for this book coincides with National Organ Donor Day on February 14, 2012.
See link:

During the week of March 4-10, 2012, The National Council on Problem Gambling will be observing Problem Gambling Awareness Week.
See link:
Published by Tyndale House Publishers Official Release Date February 1, 2012
Christian Fiction/Organ Donation/Gambling/Redemption/Family Dysfunction/Death Row/Prison
418 pages

Link for author:
You can view the book trailer on his site.
Chris Fabry won The Christy Award for Dogwood 2009, and Almost Heaven 2011. He won Christian Book award for Almost Heaven 2011.
My review for Almost Heaven:
I predicted in the review that he would win big for his book, Almost Heaven. 
My review for June Bug:

Link @ Amazon:
Paperback $10.98
Kindle $9.99

Blissful Reading!